Ex's Bankruptcy Could Change Support, Alimony

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Q: According to our divorce settlement, my former husband was required to pay $12,000 in credit card debt and the second mortgage of $22,500, in addition to child support, alimony and attorney's fees. Not two weeks after the judge signed the order, my former husband went to bankruptcy court and discharged his responsibility to pay the debts. My lawyer tells me there is nothing I can do to recoup what I have lost, but it doesn't seem fair that my children and I should suffer the economic loss.

A: While a state divorce court cannot circumvent the discharge of a martial-property settlement by a federal bankruptcy court, your former spouse's bankruptcy has caused you to lose your property settlement and increase your liability for debt while, reducing his debt, increasing his spendable income and materially improving his ability to pay you and your children more support. It appears that these factors constitute a substantial change of circumstances that should support your application to increase your alimony and child support awards.

Q: A year after our divorce, my husband, an engineer, quit his job and took another that pays him quite a bit less. He says that he was burned out and needed a break. He is 42, I am 38, and we have three children whom I am raising. …